Modern electronic locks have a lot going for them – they’re simple to use, easily reprogrammable and offer options like backlighted keypads, tamper detection and audible alarms. There can be down sides, though. Batteries expire over time, and all too often you only find that out when you need to open the safe in a hurry. An emergency is not the time to be looking for the override key.
One major advantage of traditional mechanical locks is their unbeatable reliability. With no batteries involved they’ll keep working indefinitely. With practice, many of them are just as fast to operate as an electronic lock, too. If you want the dependability of the best mechanical gun safe, you will probably find one of these ideal.
TOP PICK: Fort Knox FTK-PB Pistol Box
A handgun is always a tempting target for an opportunist thief and a potential danger if you have children in your home. Therefore, it’s essential to protect it effectively. At the same time, it’s likely to be your go-to weapon in an emergency so you want to be able to bring it into action quickly. The Fort Knox FTK-PB gun safe combines both these functions in a very tough package. The box itself is formed from a single piece of 10 gauge steel, and fitted with a lid of even heavier 7 gauge that wraps around the top of the box when closed – there’s no way to pry it open, and the concealed hinge adds even more security.
The exterior finish is a textured antique silver, which is as tough as it is attractive. Open the lid and you’ll find a gas strut that assists with opening and holds the lid up until you want to close it again; with such a heavy box that’s a very nice feature. Of course it’s possible to mount it securely to the floor or a shelf; there are four holes in the base and the necessary hardware is supplied.
To get the lid open you’ll need to get past the lock, which is an original Simplex push-button lock. This is a five-button model with over a thousand possible combinations, so it combines a high level of security with great reliability. It’s also just as quick to operate as an electronic one, so in fact you don’t lose anything by opting for mechanical in this case.
Inside, the box is lined with high density egg crate foam material, which gives excellent protection to the contents. With internal dimensions of 12 x 10 x 4 inches you also have plenty of room for virtually any handgun. A Colt Series 70 fits in with ease, as does a six-inch S&W N-frame Model 629.
When you need to keep your pistol secure but still want reliable instant access, the Fort Knox Pistol Box is a great solution. This is one of the toughest gun safes we’ve seen and the Simplex lock has a lot going for it. It can’t be recommended highly enough.
RUNNER UP: V-Line 2912-S Top Draw Security Case
The V-Line 2912-S pistol safe isn’t quite as sturdy as the incredibly strong Fort Knox, but it still offers a very high degree of protection and is V-Line’s best-selling model. It’s a clamshell design, and like the Fort Knox it has a top-mounted push-button mechanical lock. This lock is very similar to the Fort Knox’s Simplex and also has five buttons. You can bolt it down to foil thieves, and one interesting touch is an optional quick release plate. Bolt the plate down permanently, and you can securely mount the safe to it until you need to take it somewhere. This is a great feature that adds a lot of versatility.
The V-Line isn’t as deep as the Fort Knox – inside it’s a touch over 2 inches base to lid – so it’s best suited for semiautomatics. A full size .45 will still fit in no problem, though. Again the interior is foam lined. If the Fort Knox isn’t for you this will make a very nice alternative.